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Rocky Mountain High


Yet another immaculate transaction, conceived in the Edenic innocence where dwell the good and the great:

For nearly two years beginning in 2015, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sought a buyer for a 40-acre tract of property he co-owned in rural Granby, Colorado.

Nine days after he was confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, the then-circuit court judge got one: The chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s biggest law firms with a robust practice before the high court. Gorsuch owned the property with two other individuals.

On April 16 of 2017, Greenberg’s Brian Duffy put under contract the 3,000-square foot log home on the Colorado River and nestled in the mountains northwest of Denver, according to real estate records.

He and his wife closed on the house a month later, paying $1.825 million, according to a deed in the county’s record system. Gorsuch, who held a 20 percent stake, reported making between $250,001 and $500,000 from the sale on his federal disclosure forms.

Gorsuch did not disclose the identity of the purchaser. That box was left blank.

Since then, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court, according to a POLITICO review of the court’s docket.

The non-disclosure aspect of this is pretty sketchy. Note that Gorsuch was already on the SCOTUS when he was required to make the disclosure, so practically speaking there’s nothing that could have been done about this cozy little deal. But apparently he decided, as one does, that the great unwashed didn’t need to every little detail of his private financial transactions, because how dare you imply etc. etc. etc.

Another sketchy thing here is that Duffy — who may have been a student of mine, but it was 32 years ago and I don’t remember if he was or not –claims he had no idea Gorsuch owned the property, when he offered on it nine days after Gorsuch was confirmed to the Court. That’s certainly a hell of a coincidence, given that the property had been on the market for nearly two years at that point. The Colorado front range real estate market was absolutely ripping during this time, so the failure to sell for so long proves the property was seriously overpriced even in the context of a very hot market, at least until that very special buyer came along. (Duffy paid 94% of the list price, which had been reduced twice already, so admittedly that doesn’t look like a sweetheart deal on its face. But taking a two-million dollar property that hasn’t sold for two years off a seller’s hands is still a rather considerate gesture, all things considered).

It’s also pretty implausible in the gossipy little world of elite Denver law firms, where of course Gorsuch was very well known even before his ascension (he was on the Denver-based 10th circuit, and his mother was rather infamously Reagan’s EPA director). But whatever as the kids say.

Here we see how Clarence Thomas’s even sleazier dealings are indirectly beneficial to his running mates, since they make stuff that would have been a major scandal in the Before Time — this Gorsuch deal is really not much different than the scandal that got Abe Fortas evicted from the Court back in the day — look relatively benign by comparison. It’s defining deviance down, to coin a phrase.

. . . Also too, welcome to Gorsuch Haus, brought to you by a totally on the square Russian oligarch:

A Miami-based development firm founded by a Russian-born billionaire paid $76.25 million this week for nearly 1 acre of land at the base of Aspen Mountain where the sellers had planned to build a slope-side hotel called the Gorsuch Haus.

The deal was recorded Friday and came less than one year after Norway Island LLC — a partnership including Jim DeFrancia of Lowe’s Development, Jeff Gorsuch and Bryan Peterson — acquired the same piece of land for $10 million from Aspen Skiing Co. in July. This week’s closing amount surpassed last year’s price by more than seven times. [!!!]

The property covers 41,268 square feet, according to public records, which equates to 0.95 acre. It also comes with entitlements to build a voter-approved hotel.

Jeff Gorsuch is Neil’s cousin, but again, whatever!

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